Thursday, April 17, 2014
He fought courageously, was wounded, and was decorated for his actions during what historians have described as World War II's largest and bloodiest battle.
Joseph E. “Tim” Dufour poses with his wife, the former Lauretta O’Brion, whom he married in 1947. She died last year.
Each day the newsroom selects one obituary and seeks to learn more about the life of a person who has lived and worked in Maine. We look for a person who has made a mark on the community or the person's family and friends in lasting ways
Joseph E. "Tim" Dufour survived the Battle of the Bulge and went on to get married and raise three children.
The lifelong Portland resident, who was 91 years old, died Friday at the Birchwoods at Canco, where he had lived since October 2006.
Mr. Dufour, like many veterans, did not like to talk about the horrors of war and his children respected that. They knew the war and the bloody battle that took place in late 1944 in Belgium, France and Luxembourg had taken its toll. He received the Purple Heart for his actions.
A total of 89,000 U.S. soldiers were wounded or killed in the Battle of the Bulge, making it the country's costliest World War II battle.
"He wouldn't talk about a lot of the stuff that happened over there," said one of his daughters, Irene Dufour of Portland. "He tried to shelter us from a lot of the atrocities."
Mr. Dufour grew up in Portland, where he was called Tim or Timmy by a woman who lived in the neighborhood.
He reminded her of her son, who had died at a young age, and she started calling him Timmy. The name stuck and to this day there are relatives and friends who did not know his real name was Joseph, his daughter said.
He enjoyed playing baseball and became a member of a neighborhood team known as the West End Terrors. The team would travel around the city looking to compete against other neighborhood pickup teams.
"They were pretty well known, but in a good way despite the name," his daughter explained.
In his later years, he played first base for the Cheverus High School baseball team.
After graduating from Cheverus in 1942, Mr. Dufour joined the Army. He rose to the rank of sergeant and served under Gen. George Patton in the 7th Armored Tank Division.
During the Battle of the Bulge his tank was destroyed by enemy fire. Mr. Dufour was able to escape from the tank but was wounded and had to be hospitalized for a time in Belgium.
When he learned that his company was being redeployed, Mr. Dufour ignored his doctor's orders and left the hospital -- his wounds were still being treated -- so that he could rejoin his comrades.
After the war, Mr. Dufour returned to the United States to work at a shipyard in New London, Conn.
In 1947, he returned to Maine, where he married Lauretta O'Brion. Mr. Dufour worked for Century Tire and at the General Electric plant in South Portland for a number of years before he retired in 1986.
After retirement, he took up golf. His one claim to golf fame was when he sank a hole-in-one on the 8th hole at Riverside South in Portland, said another daughter, Linda Dufour of Portland.
Dufour said her father was the master of "Timmy-isms"-- certain words or phrases that only he could have claimed as his own.
"If you said 'who' to him, he might reply, 'Your feet are too big to fit on a limb (a reference to an owl)," she said.
Mr. Dufour's wife died last year. He is survived by his two daughters and a son, Joseph Dufour Jr. of Portland.
Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: